Slavery, Race, and the Making of a University in the Capital of the Confederacy

Author(s): Bernard K. Means

Year: 2016


In 1994, comingled human remains were accidentally discovered during construction at the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) campus of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).  The association of these remains with MCV should not have been unexpected. Found in an abandoned well and dating to the first half of the 19th century, these human remains from people of African descent bear grim witness to the desecration of interred individuals in a bid to advance medical knowledge—knowledge that largely benefited the white population in the capital of the Confederacy. Controversy over race and the history of enslavement also dogged the Monroe Park Campus of VCU, where a parking lot potentially sat atop "Burial Ground for Negroes," both free and enslaved.  This presentation explores issues of how slavery, race, and the material past are considered today at VCU within the broader landscape of enslavement that characterized pre-Emancipation Richmond.

Cite this Record

Slavery, Race, and the Making of a University in the Capital of the Confederacy. Bernard K. Means. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434528)


Temporal Keywords
19th Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 44